Saturday, April 25, 2018

At The Glide Wildflowers Show 2018

I see already I have the wrong date on the video, but there’s no going back now. Only the geekiest of historians will ever notice that Saturday at the end of April in 2018 fell on April 25.

Time for the Jensens Spring Getaway

We stayed at one of our favorite retreats, Steamboat Inn. Early in the morning, a little after six, we sat drinking coffee in front of the gas fire, looking out at the pale, green light slowly filling up the river canyon not far below our cabin deck. We had only been here in November at Thanksgiving,

so rediscovering the river valley along Highway 138 and before that, the North Bank Road, was a revelation in Spring 2018.

The North Bank Road is the scenic route between I-5 and the little town of Glide, where the Wildflower Show was held.
The North Bank Road is the scenic route between I-5 and the little town of Glide, where the Wildflower Show was held.

Most noticeable was Oregon’s characteristic green – the open oak savannas are emerald as in Emerald Valley green – sweeping up the rolling hills to oak groves and lava outcroppings, and then down on the other side to the North Umpqua River.

The meadows are spread thick with golden yellow buttercups, and the ditches and fence lines run white with the endemic white camas.

Buttercups spread their butter all the way to the edges of this oak savannah ecosystem with its broad meadows and big Oregon White oaks
Buttercups spread their butter all the way to the edges of this oak savannah ecosystem with its broad meadows and big Oregon White Oaks
This White Camas is not the famous white death camas; this is a unique, endemic species flourishing in the North Umpqua watershed.
This White Camas is not the famous white death camas; this is a unique, endemic species flourishing in the North Umpqua watershed.
This is open Oregon White oak savannah with large ranches and long, swooping miles of country road--Oregon scenic back country driving at its finest.
This is open Oregon White Oak savannah with large ranches and long, swooping miles of country road–Oregon scenic back country driving at its finest.

As we entered the luminous green of the canyon, the white flames of the dogwood trees lit up the riparian forest on both sides. Dogwood trees are in bloom over our deck, and my photographs from yesterday evening remind me as I have not been reminded in years, of how

every blossom on every branch arranges itself like an Asian calligraphic masterwork, black stems like painted character marks against that glowing green background.

Each dogwood arranges itself to reflect light front and back.
Each dogwood arranges itself to reflect light front and back.
Up close and personal, the blossoms still have that ethereal white glow of visiting angels.
Up close and personal, the blossoms still have that ethereal white glow of visiting angels.
From even a short distance, the dogwood became a galaxy of stars in the night sky of the forest.
From even a short distance, the dogwood became a galaxy of stars in the night sky of the forest.
The white blossoms against the dark forest wall looked white flames.
The white blossoms against the dark forest wall looked white flames.
Each single blossom among thousands was worth its own haiku.
Each single blossom among thousands was worth its own haiku.
The Dogwood everywhere arranged itself like a cat posing to display its optimal self to the world.
The Dogwood everywhere arranged itself like a cat posing to display its optimal self to the world.
Dogwood Grouping
After a while I run out of words and just stand still and look in wonder at what I see.

We traveled in alternating storm and light. The rain would pommel us into obliteration if it could, the windshield wipers working furiously against the bathtub of water being up-ended over the Subaru Forester.

Then a hill would light up like a green candle where the sun started to emerge over the last hunched shoulder of a raincloud;

the cell would move on down the valley, leaving us driving through a landscape of sparkles and rainbows, the green almost impossible to believe, the yellow sweeps like the flashing heads of yellow-headed blackbirds.

At the Narrows, we found purple larkspur all over the hillside above the big curving bend of the fast flowing river where it rushes into that vast, still punchbowl, circles in jade then runs west again toward Glide.

The North Umpqua runs fast around the curve at the narrows.
The North Umpqua runs fast around the curve at the Narrows.

 

At the Narrows, we saw lots and lots of dark purple larkspur blooming among the madrones, fir, and oak on the hillside.
At the Narrows, we saw lots and lots of dark purple larkspur blooming among the madrones, fir, and oak on the hillside.

 

The rushing downhill joyride comes to an abrupt and quiet halt in the deep plunge-pool at the bottom of the Narrows.
The rushing downhill joyride comes to an abrupt and quiet halt in the deep plunge-pool at the bottom of the Narrows.

 

The Glide Wildflowers Show itself was much like the one here in Eugene at Mount Pisgah the last weekend in May every year, but without all the food booths, information and product kiosks. At Glide, they use the community center to lay out rows of tables with plants organized by family. Many of the flowers are in colored glass or antique vases, others are planted in plates, trays, or in little arranged settings.

Corloni and Jensen
Ken Corloni (right) was a walking botanical encyclopedia, and Peter Jensen was an eager graduate student once again.

Ken Corloni, a botany instructor at Umpqua Community College, was there with a squadron of students in a flying wedge behind him as he identified unique characteristics and told bio-stories about the plants. My husband, Peter, hung out with them, soaking it all up and filling pages of his journal with factoids, which he immediately turned into poems.

Meanwhile, I had my Lensbaby Velvet 56 on my Olympus OMDEM-5 micro 4/3rds camera, photographing as many flowers as I could. I abandoned the tripod right away as too cumbersome and hand held the camera, but I had had a big arm work out the day before, and my hands and arms went into shake easily. However, I persisted, trying to keep all of

my teacher Kathleen Clemon‘s good advice in mind:

  • don’t visually cut off the tips of petals;
  • no color blobs;
  • selectively focus on the nearest element…

but really, the advice drifted in and out of my mind, and I’d have to catch myself.

The primary focus of my attention is always first composition and second, focus, especially with the hand focused LensBabies. The day before, I had my 300 mm on and was startled by auto focus; it had been so long since I had used it. It seemed like cheating!

Peter caught me using my iPhone 8+ to frame a shot before moving on to my Olympus and LensBaby lens.
Peter caught me using my iPhone 8+ to frame a shot before moving on to my Olympus and LensBaby lens.

The wonders of the weekend went on and on. I have no final words unless it is once I again I feel

I walk in wonder feeling nothing but gratitude for living my life in the Pacific Northwest bioregion.

 

Mott Bridge
When I had a couple hours to myself, I hiked upriver of the Mott Bridge. Looking up between the framing arms of two old-growth Doug Firs, the framework of the bridge in front of the forest looks like stained glass.

 

Steamboat Falls
We drove up Steamboat Creek, a tributary of the North Umpqua. At Steamboat Falls, there is a fish ladder that allow the steelhead to move on upstream into colder sanctuary waters when the lower stem gets too warm in the summer.

 

At Swiftwater on the North Umpqua
We stopped at Swiftwater to look for wildflowers and crossed the bridge just in time to see this precursor of the afternoon rain hove up over the valley wall.

Sandy Brown Jensen

I am a retired writing instructor and faculty tech specialist from Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon. I still teach and am also a photographer, poet, blogger and digital storyteller (short videos).

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2 comments

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  • Stirring and beautiful as always. Loved the intimate close-ups and music. In the video, I would have appreciated more big, contextual shots. Bravo!

  • Wow, thanks for sharing these photos and words. More places to go for the growing bucket list…

Sandy Brown Jensen

I am a retired writing instructor and faculty tech specialist from Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon. I still teach and am also a photographer, poet, blogger and digital storyteller (short videos).

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